The VFW traces its roots back to 1899 when veterans of the Spanish-American War (1898) and the Philippine Insurrection (1899-1902) founded local organizations to secure rights and benefits for their service. The American Legion was formed on March 15th, 1919 in Paris, France by thousands of members of the American Expeditionary Forces, and was Chartered by the United States Congress on September 16th, 1919.
The Stanley McCollum Post #280 of the American Legion was Chartered in 1920, and the Harry Kinman VFW Post 2671 was Chartered in 1942. Both Posts operated independently in Benton, Il since their founding. In the early 2000s, VFW Post 2671 moved into the same location, 311 South Main Street, with American Legion Post 280. The majority of our members are dual Legion and VFW members, and both organizations share a common goal of caring for Veterans in our community.
Here at Legion Post 280/VFW Post 2671 we do all our functions jointly and we have a great group of volunteers who help us accomplish our mission. Sadly, most American Legion and VFW Posts have a reputation of being a dark bar with cheap drink specials where a bunch of old men sit around and tell stories. We continually work hard to disprove this false narrative. We do have a Canteen with great prices, and a fair number of stories are told, but since the founding of both Posts, being a charitable service to our community has been the priority. In just the past two years we've been able to greatly increase our community outreach. We have raised over $5,000 for the St. Louis Chapter of the ALS Association. We have increased our donations for, and took part in the Wreaths Across American event at the Mounds National Cemetery. We have raised, and donated, thousands of dollars for children advocacy groups, individuals with health problems, Veteran's groups, and other organizations. We have held a Bi-Annual Anna Veteran's Home Fish Fry. We took the residents of Helia Healthcare in Benton out to Rend Lake for a day of fishing, picnic, and a wildlife presentation. We have both Thanksgiving and Christmas Day meals for people in our community who have no place to enjoy a holiday meal. We have supported our local troops who have deployed to the Middle East. We've held both clothing and food drives which have donated to the VA Food Pantry and other organizations which help those in need. In 2020 we collected over 110 pints of blood by holding Red Cross Blood Drives. Our Honor Guard provides Military Rites at funeral services and has also provided military ceremony at community events. Our Legion and VFW Auxiliaries have continued to support those in our local nursing homes and at the Marion VA Community Living Center in a number of ways. Our Sons of the Legion raised and donated $1,500 for the Honor Flight of Southern Illinois, and provided other assistance to Veterans in need. Our Legion Riders have made yearly donations to the Anna Veteran's Home and participated in various benefit rides. All of these events listed are just some of the great work that our joint Post and Auxiliary units have accomplished. The best thing about all these charitable events is that we didn't do them as only Legion or VFW members, we did them JOINTLY as Legion and VFW members. The majority of all our community outreach projects is a collaboration between our American Legion, VFW, and all the related Auxiliary units. New community events are always being planned and will continue to take place in the future. If you are a Veteran, or the family member of a Veteran, we invite you to come and join us. We are always looking for great people who have a sense of community pride and spirit.